I am walking across college campus and a blonde in a pageboy cap passes by me. She looks over her shoulder and says, “I like your purse. It’s really cute.” She accentuates the u in cute in a long drawl, like a proper Paris Hilton neophyte.
“Uh, thanks.” I reply.
She slows down a little. “Who makes it?”
You must understand. Slung across my shoulder is not a Louis Vutton. Or a Dooney and Burke. Or a Coach.
It’s a Walmart.
Specifically it’s a brown hobo purse bought two years ago. Notice that I said two YEARS ago, not two seasons ago. I think it’s leather, but I can’t be too sure. Imported, which means China.
On the clearance rack, even. Purchased for $5.
And since this is my only purse, it has obtained the “patina of a well cherished item”. This is catalogspeak for “dirt in the creases of the hide and little frayed edges appearing at the zipper fob.”
So I answer, “Walmart,” and search her face for a reaction.
If she is surprised, she hides it well.
“Like I said, it’s a cute purse.” She walks off.
I am perplexed. Did I just have an Ugly Betty moment? Will this girl, safely out of my line of sight, whip out her pink Razor phone (you know it has to be pink) and screech, “Oh my GAWD! I saw the most HIDEOUS purse today. It looked like a cow’s uterus! And I told the lady that had it that it was CUTE!”
Or was I the purveyor of a bit of fashion enlightenment? That form and function can marry in a serviceable bag, even if the purse has an identity crisis? For the Path of the Thrift is narrow, but many have come to embrace its Spartan ideals.
I do not know.
I do know that I’d rather have $300 in my $5 Walmart bag than $5 in a $300 Coach bag.